# Many Little Hands Apiary Cangas de Onis, Spain
1. Urban & Rural
This action consisted in experimenting with how composing knowledge can address present-day issues of living together and living more ecologically, working against the urban norm and the idea of rural death with centralization, and densification as the only point of departure for sustainability. For this action we brought together vernacular knowledge and contemporary art, design and architecture, animal cultural studies, posthuman theory, social sciences, and agroecology, to experiment with the design of a public space in a rural site. It evolved into an experience where we involved apiculture to imagine scenarios for a contemporary rural resilient system in terms of rural economy through cultural activities and contributions by our companions the bees.
Together with the art´s collective Inland - led by artist Fernando Garcia Dory, biologists, apiculture experts and Konstfack spatial design students we took a closer look at the Iberian Bee. This meant investigating how the maintenance activity of local Iberian bee colonies can give form to architecture which communicates and accounts for an interdependence relationship between humans and bees. The result is a construction that hosts an apiary, home for beehives, and offers the public a spatial experience of remediation of the trauma caused by melissophobia - fear of bees – a metaphor to reflect on the ongoing trauma of the climate crisis caused by human activities leading to rapid decrease of biodiversity, Iberian bees amongst them. With this approach we investigated how architecture can operate as an interface between apiculture and bees, at the same time offering the public ways to reconnect with ancient lost relations with pollinators and better understand how humans can live together with other species in kin relationship of mutual dependency.
The final form given to the apiary architecture is limited to left over wood planks materials assorted and reused, first studied through a digital inventory with analogue and digital models and then combined with traditional building techniques. The spatial solutions and choice of location were continuously transformed in dialogue with apiculture experts reorganizing, adapting, and repositioning the construction to embrace the best local conditions for bees and relation between humans and bees and other species. We hope that the apiary architecture can operate as a centerpiece for the village, a point of reference for the community just like the abandoned chapel ones was.
The history of the word urban goes back to 1820 and contains values and power relations created in times of industrialization when migration started from the countryside to the city. Urban was applied to communicate what is civilized, modern and cultivated - created to describe the life in the city as opposite to life elsewhere as, barbaric, primitive, and uncivilized, in short rural. Through my research I argue that this two-hundred-year division by western culture has resulted in a complete disassociation from ecological systems no longer visible in growing urban areas. Urban norms are given preferential right of interpretation and we are misled to believe that the only way to achieve sustainability is more of the same but better, with more technology and more resources used for the development of urban densification into the extreme of megacities. This is a well-established agenda by scholars and scientists, most recently by the environmental philosophy of ecomodernist manifesto that resonates with a long history of this kind of proposals, arguing that the only way to decrease environmental impact on the planet, is if human beings are detached from the rural through massive and rapid urbanization, process already in movement. This leads me to the question driving my research activities; what multiple alternatives of societies, technologies and cultures that unfold in sustainable ways are we missing to explore with such agenda and what have we lost and will continue losing along the gap created by this current division between urban and rural.
With the many little hand apiaries action, we offer the art, design and architectural process a chance to reflect on its own meaning in a different frame than the urban to take some first steps addressing these questions. The work is therefore an attempt to think about new monuments to encounter with global warming searching for clues to these questions. We hope that this kind of proposals can operate like interfaces that could spread around the planet in many different ways, made up by simple constructions, all assembled by materiality’s with one purpose, inspiring to activities in better relationship with the biosphere and to reflect on the relationships lost. For this action we chose the Iberian bees as they can give us many little clues about lost relationships and situated knowledge about particular territories, its climates, its limits and its opportunities, all part of many small and big systems interweaving.
The planet, as we know it, is changing rapidly, and yet in most parts of the planet the human species is stuck in systems based on deterritorialized activities detached from the reality or the whole story of things, consuming more and more resources than ever before at a speed damaging the biosphere. With the result of this process, we eventually hope to influence how we as practitioners perceive and rethink urbanization - not derived from the dichotomy of urban as the better positive opposite to the rural, but rather as a complement for its own survival. We can conclude that the ideals of urbanity are in urgent need of a cultural transformation. From this process we learned that there is still time to compose knowledge based on what has been lost as direct consequence of the divisions between urban and rural. Therefore, we propose that a transfiguration of spatial and environmental practices to encounter with global warming is dependent on the relationships lost by binary thinking, categorizations and the division between living things.
The study of apiculture and apiaries became the opportunity to unlearn and relearn how to compose knowledge adopting an Iberian bee perspective. This perspective provided us with a collective consciousness about interdependencies between living things in this particular location and these particular landscapes, furthermore, learning how to best reorganize life to profit from the local conditions, limits and resources sufficiently. In overall in the process, we discovered many commonalities between basic needs for humans and bees to survive, such as temperature, profiting from the position of the sun, protection from cold winds and the importance of a shelter and so forth. To conclude we reflected on the fact that humans have lived in many ways through its short history on the planet. It is only during this last two hundred years that we have chosen a direction dictated by densification into growing urban regions as a model copied all around the world in monolithic manner, today being confermed as a massive consumer of of energy and material flows (PNAS May 12, 2015 112 (19) 5985-5990; first published April 27, 2015). Is it just a coincidence that this direction also happened during a proposed geological epoch of significant
human impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change, as described in encyclopedias. Perhaps it’s time now to work with particularities and differences and allow testing many ideas about how societies can exist and co-exist with all life on the planet, and I hope through my research to continue this quest together with companions.